Ukrainian refugees at Polish border returning to come home despite risks - including women and children

More than three million people have left Ukraine since Putin launched his invasion

Zaina Alibhai
Sunday 20 March 2022 16:11 GMT
Ukrainian refugees take shelter at Polish train stations as they flee war
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The war in Ukraine has seen millions of people forced to flee their homes for safety in neighbouring countries.

However, at the Polish border with Ukraine reports are emerging of many, including women and children, returning to Ukraine despite the risks.

One couple had been on holiday when the invasion happened and were returning to be with family who had stayed put, Sky News reports.

Another woman, Valentina Puzanova, said she travelled to Poland to take her elderly mother and young son to safety, and was heading back to be with her husband.

And the Bilechenko family, including a mother, father and their four children, said they are heading back after two weeks in Poland as the draw to be home “outweighs the risk”.

The United Nations estimates that since Russian troops first entered Ukraine on 24 February, 3,270,662 have left the country, the majority of whom have gone to Poland. Ninety per cent of them are women and children.

The UN has stressed the need for humanitarian aid
The UN has stressed the need for humanitarian aid (AP)

The Kyiv Independent estimates more than 320,000 Ukrainians have returned since the beginning of the war, most of whom were men who wanted to defend their country.

The UN has warned that humanitarian needs are becoming ever-more urgent, with 200,000 people now without access to water across Donetsk and 100,000 people with no electricity in Luhansk, due to heavy shelling.

Residents in Mariupol and Sumy are facing a critical shortage of food, water and medicine, while in Odessa authorities have appealed for support for the 450,000 people in the city.

Poland has welcomed more than two million Ukrainian refugees so far
Poland has welcomed more than two million Ukrainian refugees so far (AP)

Ukraine’s deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk said seven humanitarian corridors would open on Sunday to enable civilians to leave frontline areas.

The UN estimates at least 847 civilians have been killed and 1,399 wounded as of Friday, with the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office claiming 112 children to have been killed.

The Independent has a proud history of campaigning for the rights of the most vulnerable, and we first ran our Refugees Welcome campaign during the war in Syria in 2015. Now, as we renew our campaign and launch this petition in the wake of the unfolding Ukrainian crisis, we are calling on the government to go further and faster to ensure help is delivered. To find out more about our Refugees Welcome campaign, click here. To sign the petition click here. If you would like to donate then please click here for our GoFundMe page.

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